From “Preludes to My Autobiography”
The similarities between Kurt Lewin’s work in action and group research and my own has been so striking that many have wondered what kind of interdependence there is between Lewin and myself.
Lewin’s dependence can be further shown in three respects.
- The Sociometric Institute served consciously or unconsciously as a model for the Research Center for Group Dynamics.
- The divergence between his theory and his actual research work. Lewin was original as a theoretician but his experimental work in group and action dynamics was not original. The techniques which made his work popular stem from me. He became belatedly aware of this incongruity and tried to develop, supplementary to topological theory, a theory of action of his own, using my theories as a model. But he did not succeed at this, he did not see clearly the relationship between spontaneity, warming up, the stages leading up to and operational circumstances emerging in the moment of action. He tried to set up a theory of change without a theory of spontaneity, a theory of action without a theory of the actor in situ theory of productivity without a theory of creativity. This theoretical defencie led to defiencies in the comprehension and the effect of action techniques. Lewin’s chief handicap was that he tried to formulate a theory of action without being an action technician himself.
- Many of his students merely render lipservice to topological theory; they lean upon sociometric theory or theories of similar origin.
I cannot close this unpleasant chapter without asserting that I have not written it because I personally have been cheated of any benefits. I have written it for ethical reasons, and for the delight of all participants in the various social atoms involved, so that everyone should know ‘that they did not get away with it.’